Medication for Social Anxiety

Numerous studies have concluded the most effective and longest-lasting treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy. However, some people prefer to rely on medication to manage their social anxiety, and there are several effective medications used to treat anxiety.

Antidepressants were originally designed to treat depression, but they can also be helpful short-term treatment helpful for social phobia. They are probably more commonly prescribed for social phobia than traditional anti-anxiety medications. Antidepressants usually take several weeks to start working. Many cause side effects such as headache, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. They are usually not a problem for most people, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have. Most people who take antidepressants to treat anxiety experience relapse once medication is discontinued.

A type of antidepressant called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can be more effective in treating social phobia. However, they are rarely used as a first line of treatment because when MAOIs are combined with certain common foods or other medicines, dangerous side effects can occur, including death.

Although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they can be dangerous for some, especially children, teens, and young adults. A "black box"—the most serious type of warning that a prescription drug can have—has been added to the labels of antidepressant medications. These labels warn people that antidepressants may cause some people to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts. Individuals taking antidepressants should be monitored closely, especially at the beginning of treatment.

Beta-blockers, another kind of medication, can help control some of the physical symptoms of social phobia such as excessive sweating, shaking, or a racing heart. Usually they are prescribed when symptoms of Social Anxiety is more akin to performance anxiety, also known as stage fright.

If you are considering medication to treat social anxiety, it is important you speak with a mental health professional. 

This information provided courtesy of NIMH